Twins Of Evil (1971)
There's a very dark introduction to this film, as a busty wench is pursued through a dark forest by a bunch of men dressed in black, before being tied to a stake and burned alive (in the dark). And things don't get much lighter for the next 90 minutes, either. Twins Of Evil is like a slap in the face for everyone who thinks that by the 70s, Hammer had disappeared up its own arse and started producing garish, entertaining but stupid films.
There's no hero in this film, no redemption, no happy ending. Peter Cushing plays against type as the well-meaning but bad Gustav Weil, and despite his wench burning activities, he's about the best of an extremely bad lot (I've discounted Anton the schoolteacher, because he's just a berk).
Of course, there are lighter moments, usually brought on unintentionally. As in some of the dialogue in the coach at the beginning. "Karnstein Castle... who lives there?"
Saucy strumpets Frieda and Maria turn up in the willage to stay with their uncle Gustav after the death of their parents. Of course, one of the twins is a bad 'un, although the title of the film rather gives that away. Gustav, meanwhile, is busy burning every saucepot in the vicinity, obviously reckoning that if he carries on, by the law of averages at some point he's going to hit on the wampire that's been terrorising the willage.
So he and his mates (The Brotherhood) are busy gallumphing around the forest on horseback, accompanied by music which sounds like it was nicked from some second-rate western. Cool.
Meanwhile, Count Karnstein is in his castle, enjoying himself by stabbing girls to death on sacrificial altars. It's a wonder there's any women under the age of 30 left, the way these two are carrying on. After the blood from his latest stabbing accidentally resurrects his ancient ancestor Mircalla, he indulges in a bit of tonsil hockey (hang on - isn't this his gran or something? Urgh) and she does something particularly bizarre to a candlestick. Mircalla bites him and he becomes a vampire. Which actually doesn't explain why there have been vampires at large beforehand. Nor does the film ever actually try to explain this slight plot oversight. Oh, well.
Meanwhile, the twins are underacting, badly. Twins Of Cardboard might be a better name for the film. Or at least Twin Of Evil, considering that Maria is quite nice, really.
Apparently (according to this) only "the good and the innocent die" when bitten by a vampire. So that explains absolutely nothing at all, and contradicts pretty much every film that went before or afterwards. It also appears that these vampires can go out in the daylight - or that could just be the dreadful day-for-night filming going on, which would confuse anyone.
Anyway, there's more damsel burning and neck sucking, and then Frieda gets caught by her uncle, and condemned to death. In an ace twist, Karnstein swaps the good twin for the evil one, and then there's the obligatory "villagers make their way up to the castle, holding flaming torches aloft" finale.
There's a hilarious moment when Karnstein's huge mute servant tries to warn his master what's going on using "Give Us A Clue" style hand signals: "They have crosses? And... stakes? And... axes? Is it a book or a film? How many words?"
And then Joachim's spirited defence of the castle gives us a great but short gore-fest, which culminates in a shockingly well-done decapitation, a nasty "axe-in-the-back" moment, an horrific "body hitting floor like sack of spuds" bit, and a great "enormous spike through the guts" thing. Fantastic.
Last updated: February 27, 2010
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